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MJ, Dustin Johnson, Meatloaf, 1st pitch, London WSOPE, drinking w kids

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Nov 19, '10

Posted: September 21, 2010 07:34 AM

I filmed "The Big Game" for FOX on three days: Sunday August, 15th, then Weds and Friday.  On Tuesday I hit "Shadow Creek" to golf, and I ran into Michael Jordan.  We arranged to play golf together on Thursday, and when I showed up at 4:30 pm Dustin Johnson was with MJ's group.  They had just finished their 34th hole, and MJ was tired, so he quit and bunch of us went out to dinner at the "Aria Hotel."  I am a huge MJ fan!

Back up to Sunday, when I was playing "The Big Game" and Brandon Cantu sent me a strange text, "There was no way that that was a bunker!"  Now, I am a big golf fan, and I hated missing watching the final day of the last major (The PGA Championship) on TV (and I had no TIVO in Vegas at the Aria).  Later on Sunday I found out that Dustin Johnson had basically been screwed when he hit a shot out of a fairway bunker and grounded his club (yes, I understand that "Technically" the rules officials were right, but CMON MAN!).  In fact, my mom and dad were there in person watching that shot, as they were volunteering at the PGA Championships (at "Whistling Straights" in Wisconsin), and they were in shock like everyone else.  My dad stated the obvious, "There were a million people standing in that bunker, there was no way to know it was a bunker!"  Fast forward to Thursday and Dustin was still handling himself perfectly.  As it turns out, I was rooting for him to win the PGA, because he fell so short in the US Open at "Pebble Beach" the last day when he had the lead.  I really enjoyed hanging out with Dustin, and now I am a fan!  I texted Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin to tell him that I was eating dinner with one of his Ryder Cup players, and Corey texted me back telling me to take good care of Dustin while he was in Vegas, Captains Orders!  I was pleased to see Dustin won last week, and now he has a good shot at winning the PGA Tour Playoffs, and $10 million!  Seems like he deserves it.

On Friday I filmed my last session of the "Big Game," but I had to leave early to go watch the Meatloaf concert and meet "Meat" backstage afterwards.  "Pearl" opened for Meatloaf, and Scott Ian and Pearl Aday were wonderful, as always!  I am still waiting for "Pearl" to turn into one of the world's hottest bands.  Check out music from "Pearl" on Youtube or buy their album at ITUNES, you will love the song "Mama!"  Meatloaf played high stakes poker back in the 60's in Texas, and he loves watching poker on television these days.  Meat was a pleasure to hang out withAnd to me, "Dashboard Lights" is an opera in itself.  Meatloaf and his band spent 20 minutes onstage playing "Dashboard Lights" and I wanted more!

On Saturday I rushed off to the WPT at the Bicycle Club in LA, and I made it to Day Two with a lot of chips.  Too bad I blew them all in six hands on Sunday, triple ouch!  That was pretty stupid of meI then hopped a flight right back to Vegas to play some golf and poker, and hit a few clubs with Michael Phelps and his crew (see my last BLOG).  Finally, I headed home on Wednesday and chilled for a couple of days.  On Sunday I drove my oldest son 12 hours up to college to drop him off, and I practiced my motivational speech on my son.  When Phillip liked it, then I knew I was good to go.  I delivered that speech August 31, and it was my first motivational speech in three years.  The speech seemed to have a big impact on everyone in attendance!  I basically talked about how I reach for the stars in everything I do, and how I use lots of methods to help me achieve great things.   Methods like writing goal sheets and taping them to my bathroom mirror.

On Sept 7 (Phillip's birthday) I threw out the first pitch for the Oakland A's vs the Seattle Mariners.  As it turned out--unbeknownst to me--my friend Corey Pavin threw out the first pitch for the Yankee's on the very same night!  I took my son and his good friend Drake Swezey (the number one pitcher for Palo Alto High School), and my friends Chris Connor and Chamath.  After watching batting practice from the field, 2009 AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey (two years in bigs, two all star games!) and Craig Breslow (nicknamed the "Smartest Man in Baseball") walked me up to the clubhouse where I taught Bailey, Breslow, Coco Crisp and a few other players how to play Chinese poker.  FYI - everyone in the clubhouse admits that Coco is the best Hold'em player on the team.  Then I was walked down to the field to throw out the first pitch.  Now, I used to throw thousands of tennis balls against a garage when I was a kid, working on curve balls, rising fast balls, etcSo I practiced for ten minutes the day before, and I was ready to go.  Believe it or not, I threw a 70 MPH fastball right down the pipe!  Here is a pic of me throwing out the first pitch, with Ichiro (I think) behind me in the outfield watching:
Here is a pic of me in the clubhouse (Bailey on the right, Crisp on the left):!/photo.php?pid=31521906&fbid=1532131656178&id=1021378079

On Friday, Sept 10 I flew to Las Vegas to host a $1 million free roll poker tournament at the "Aria Hotel" on Saturday and Sunday.  It was a terrific event!  They gave the VIP's the chance to rebuy at $5,000 a pop, and pretty soon they had $700,000 in rebuys!  Everyone seemed to have a ball!  On Saturday night my wife and I hit "Social House" for a nice meal of Sushi and Sake, and on Sunday night she flew home and I hopped on a flight to London for the WSOPE.

Here is a "Hand of the Week" from the first WSOPE tournament on Tuesday:

                              "Floating," "C-bets," and Craziness in London

On Day One of the $4,400 buy in (2,650 English Pounds) six handed maximum event in London at the WSOPE (World Series of Poker Europe), the following hand came up.  A little history: we started the day with 7,500 in chips, the European player sitting directly on my left had reraised me three times previous to this hand and I folded all three times, the Euro player on my left was playing a very fast and loose game, Loose Euro guy had the chip lead at our table with 30,000 in chips, I had 14,000, and I was playing pretty tight poker.  In the cut off, with the blinds at 100-200, I opened for 450 units with 8h-6h.  Loose Euro player made it 1,450 units on the button, and I decided to call.  The flop was 6c-4c-4d, I checked, Loose Euro guy bet 1,200, and I raised it up, making it 2,800 units to go, and Loose Euro called 1,600 units more.  The turn was the 9c, I checked, and Loose Euro bet 2,500 in about one second flat.  I called, and the river was the 10h.  I checked, and loose Euro bet 4,500 units.  I studied for a long while trying to figure out my opponents hand strength (more on this in my analysis below).  With 7,000 left in my chip stack: if I called and lost, then I would be in bad shape.  Finally, I opted to call, and Loose Euro guy said, "Your good, nice call."  Music to my ears!  He then showed down Js-2c, and immediately a report went out about this hand on the Internet.

Let's take a closer look at this hand.  My 450 bet in the cut off with 8h-6h is OK, especially considering that we were playing six handed Hold'em.  Loose Euros reraise to 1,450 to go with J-2 on the button was an excellent move.  He sensed that I was weak, and he acted on his read.  My 1,000 unit call with 8h-6h was a little wild.  If I am going to call here because I sense weakness in my opponent, then I should have gone ahead and raised it up, not called.  My check on the flop was standard.  Why would I bet out here and miss what us poker players call a C-bet (a "Continuation bet" is a bet on the flop that you make after raising it up before the flop) from a super loose and super aggressive player?  I had to let him bluff off his money to me!  Loose Euro's 1,200 bet was a standard C-bet.  I like my 1,600 raise because it defines my hand.  I am telling my opponent that I have a hand, or that I have a draw of some sort.  His 1,600 call on the flop with Js-2c was a very advanced move that we call "Floating" (Floating is where a player calls a bet or a raise with a very weak holding and with the intent of making a bluff on the next round of betting).  My check on the turn was standard, I mean, the 9c completed all flush draws, and what in the world could I beat now?  His 2,500 bet on the turn was a good one.  I mean, he called 1,600 more on the flop to float me, and now that I checked on the turn he was almost forced to bet out in order to continue with his line of play.  However, I do not like the fact that he bet so quickly.  Would he have bet a flush or an over-pair like Q-Q's that quickly?  I think not; thus the quick speed of the bet was a clue that he was weak.  My quick 2,500 call on the turn was not great either.  Would I have called that quickly with a flush, an over-pair, or trips?  I think not; thus my fast call showed some weakness.  But I need to give myself credit here for my 2,500 call; I mean there just weren't many hands that I could beat!

On the river, my check was easy, and his 4,500 bet was an excellent bet.  He continued his line of play, perhaps picking up on the fact that I was weak on the flop, and maybe he picked up on the fact that I was even weaker on the turn.  My 4,500 call on the river was a super tough call for me to make.  I only had 7,000 left, and the consequences of calling and losing were huge.  Honestly, I wondered if Loose Euro had pocket queens, and I almost folded my hand.  But I manned up, and made a terrific call!

I could have played a little better in this tournament (I made it to 50th place out of 271 players, but 24 got paid), but I feel terrific.  I am calm, cool, collected, and enjoying the ride.

On Wednesday night I had an amazing meal at "Bentley's Seafood" including: Caviar, Dover Sole, fresh Ryan oysters (maybe the best I have ever had!), and Delamian straight up.  At dinner, I tweeted that I was lonely, and then my poker player friends reached out to me, and quickly.  Before long I was at Antonio Esfandiari's party, and then I lost my phone in a cab on the way to the next stop!  Here is a video Madsen took right about then while we were on our way to the club "Alto" (the place was off the hook!) with Mike "The mouth" Matusow ( , Liv Boeree (, Jeff Madsen ( and his girlfriend, Devilfish, and a few others.  It was a pretty fun night, and we ended it by hitting the "Lady Gaga" suite at one of the hotels.  The "Lady Gaga" suite is where a bunch of the young stud poker players (Jason Mercier, Harry Chaska, Sorel Mizzi, and a few others) are chilling right now, and where Lady Gaga spent a few weeks chilling last month.  It was the first time in my life I was drinking with someone younger than my son, Harry is 19 years old!  Madsen and I rapped a bit, and although he is better than me, at least I am not horrible!  Of course, security asked us to turn the music down (I apologize to the rooms around us).

I left at like 5:30 am, and then I slept all day.  Luckily I was awoken by a phone call from a taxi driver saying that he had my phone!  I had texted my phone a message saying that there was a 100 Pound reward, and I gave my name, and my hotel room number.  Luckily the cab driver saw the message and delivered my phone; and believe me, 100 Pounds was a small price to pay.  At 7:00 pm I entered the WSOPE event number two; the $8,800 PLO (5,000 Pound Pot Limit Omaha) tournament.  I busted at midnight, and was on my way out when I saw Liv, and next thing I knew I was drinking (a little) with Chris Ferguson, Liv, Mclean Karr, Harry, Chance, Sorel, and Jason back in the Gaga suite.  Ferguson, Mclean, and Chance managed to beat me out of some money when Ferguson sliced a banana in half throwing playing cards before Harry could do it, but at least I had the best of it as Ferguson laid me 5-to-1.  I headed back to my hotel suite at 5:45 am, and I played tournament blackjack sit and go's at until noon.

By now it was noon on Friday and I slept 12 hours to wake up at midnight.  Then I ordered Cappuccino, called my wife, and played online poker at UB for a few hours.  At 7:30 am I went to bed again, and I woke up at 1:30 pm; which meant I had spent 32 hours straight in my room!   I rushed over to register for WSOPE event number 3, and unfortunately I busted at 4:30.  I tweeted that I busted, and the next thing I knew Howard Lederer had texted me to invite me to smoke a nice Cuban cigar, see an independent film called "Winter's Bone," and then hit the restaurant "Asai De Cuba" for dinner.  Howard, Ray Bitar and I smoked some really nice Cuban cigars, and then we hit the movie.  "Winter's Bone" was very moving.  It was depressing and almost had me in tears, but it was moving.  I would highly recommend that you see "Winter's Bone," as long as you're not depressed!  Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Allen Cunningham, and Melissa Hayden joined us for an excellent dinner at "Asai De Cuba."

Afterwards Ray, Chris, and I hit the VIP section of a club called "Whiskey Mist" where we drank Dom Perignon Rose (nice!).  Soon Liv and Harry Chaska joined us, and we shut the place down, which isn't saying much because they closed at 3:00 am.  From there we went to Ray's suite and had a few more drinks, and some food.  Howard met us there, and we listened to rap and debated which rap songs are better.  Howard believes that the Fugee's album "The Score" is the best rap record of all time, and he says that Phil Ivey agrees with him.  It is an amazing record!  Harry likes Jay Z's "D Evils" as one of the best songs of all time.  Chris Ferguson nominated "Empire State" and I kinda agree with that.  We then listened to Lauryn Hill rap, and Howard thinks she is the best female rapper of all time.  Right now I am back in my room--it is 7:24 amand I am listening to Fugee's "How Many Mics" as I play blackjack sit and go's at UBGood night all!

By the way, I was happy to see that Phil Laak won his first bracelet in the first WSOPE tournament!  Great job Phil!

Learn more about Phil at and visit his web store at

Learn more about Phil by going to his website, and visit his Web store at

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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